Gov. Abbott Addresses Legislature

Governor Abbott addressed the 84th Legislature this afternoon.  He detailed his proposed state budget (Governor's proposed budget), starting with his priorities for public education.  He stated that Texas can be number one in education if the state applies the same tenacity it did with job creation.  Gov. Abbott called for an end to school finance litigation. He commented it was time to stop fighting and time to make schools better for students.  In doing so, he made improving early education his first emergency item of the session. He called for more choice for parents and students.  He called for genuine local control for school districts.   

Gov. Abbott also called for a $2 billion reduction in the state's business tax (franchise tax) and $2.2 billion in property tax relief. He stated that he would make sure school districts are held harmless for any revenue impact due to the reduction  He then commented that he wanted this property tax relief to be lasting, hinting at, but not explicitly saying, there was a need for lowering the state's 10% appraisal limit.  Gov. Abbott also recommended that the state adopt a more strict budget limitation (only allowing growth at the rate of population + inflation).  

Gov. Abbott's public education proposal includes:  

PUBLIC EDUCATION

The cornerstone of Texas’ future is education. Texas is number one in the nation on so many fronts, including job creation, energy production, and exports. We should similarly strive to be number one in education. Candidly, failure to improve Texas schools could compromise the state’s premiere economic standing. This budget takes a first step in that direction by outlining $403 million in initiatives designed to improve student educational outcomes, while fully funding the current public education formulas and returning more local control to parents and teachers. 

The literacy and mathematics skills children learn in prekindergarten (pre-k) through third grade form the foundation for their futures, both in school and in life. Our primary goal should be to ensure all Texas students perform at grade level by the third grade in reading and math. To begin that process, the Governor’s Budget provides $182 million in an integrated pre-k through third grade program. This new $182 million infusion in public education includes $118 million for implementing a high-quality pre-k program for eligible Texas pre-k students and $64 million for providing each Texas pre-k through third grade teacher with world-class, multi-day, face-to-face professional development through Literacy and Math Achievement Academies and Reading Excellence Teams. 

Additionally, $30 million in funding is provided for Reading-to-Learn Academies for fourth and fifth grade educators so they are better prepared to help their students with reading comprehension.Texas must also begin the process of reinventing and improving its entire public education system to achieve better academic outcomes. 

The state must end the one-size-fits-all approach for all public school districts and campuses. Parents, teachers, and principals must be empowered to make decisions and changes within their local school system, and it is critical that genuine local control over our public schools is restored. The state must ensure that parents, students, and teachers have better access to valuable information about their school’s performance. To achieve that, the state should require that each public school publish an A – F report card on its campus website. Further, to prevent students from being stuck in failing schools, the state should empower parents to petition to change campus management at underachieving schools. In addition, the state should create an Achievement School District (ASD) to provide an expedited process through which the state’s lowest performing elementary schools would receive specialized attention — by being placed under management of the ASD — to improve the schools’ performance.

Because technology plays an integral role across multiple sectors of Texas’ economy, this budget devotes $164 million to provide students with digital learning opportunities, especially at low-performing schools, and greater access to high-quality online courses and tools to help students succeed on high school end-of-course exams. 

The state must also devote $12 million to programs that improve the teacher pipeline by attracting more high-quality teachers — especially in shortage areas, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) — and provide leadership training for principals.

The state must ensure that every child who graduates from a Texas high school is college- or career-ready. By reforming the state’s public education system, the state will help ensure that all high school students are equipped for postsecondary success.



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Posted By : Bob Popinski ~ 2/17/2015 11:39 AM
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